After nearly 40 years, Sam's Downtown Feed is closing its doors

Sam’s Downtown Feed has been a staple in the community for nearly four decades. The agriculture and pet product store will close its doors at the end of this month.  

This building has been here since 1913, and it still has its original brick walls. 

The Blackfords bought the place back in 1986, and they say now is the perfect time for them to close it down for good.  

"The emotion from our customers finding out that we’re closing. It’s really hard. It makes you not want to close," said Lisa Blackford, Sam’s Downtown Feed co-owner.  

Though Sam’s Downtown Feed remained open throughout the pandemic, Blackford says her husband Sam’s health challenges and a desire to spend more time with family is now their priority.  

"You know owning your own business stresses the family life a little bit. We have grandkids now. Our kids are older with families, and we’d like to be able to spend more time with them and know that we can. So, and we’re getting older," Blackford said.    

The feed store is well-known for carrying products that you can’t get anywhere else in the Bay Area. 

Their biggest selling items are chicken feed and hay, but if you also need feed for your monkey, llama or tortoise, Sam’s was the place to find it.  

"We have accounts with the Zoo, Happy Hollow, and various 4H Clubs, Future Farmers of America. They all come here and buy all their food from here," said Alan Termine, a Sam’s Employee and Customer.      

The Blackford family has had a long legacy in San Jose since the late 1800s. 

Lisa Blackford says the store has a secret bar in the basement from the Prohibition era and the city’s red-light district was nearby. She says selling the store is their best option, but the land it sits on is also up for sale, making the building’s future uncertain.  

"The demographics with high density housing, I think will inhibit people from continuing to have chickens and rabbits in their backyards and things like that. So, we’ll see," Blackford said.   

Another unique thing about Sam’s, you get an agricultural feel when you’re here. 

Lisa Blackford says there are still no computers or internet service in the store, something customers seemed to appreciate.